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tv   PBS News Hour Weekend  PBS  August 5, 2018 5:30pm-6:00pm PDT

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captioning sponsored by wnet >> thompson: on this edition for sunday, august 5:" totally legal"-- the president defends his son's 2016 meeting with a kremlin-connected lawyer. in our signature segment, love canal: 40 years later. and the state of the superfund cleanup program and lessons for the future. next on pbs newshour weekend. >> pbs newshour weekend is made bernard and irene schwartz.ed sue anr wachenheim iii. the cheryl and philip milstein fa rly. dr. vagelos and diana t. vagelos. the j.p.b. foundation. rosalind p. walter. barbara hope zucrberg. corporate funding is provided by mutuaof america-- designing customized individual
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and group retirement products. that's why we're your retirement company. additional support has been proved by: and by the corporation for tiublic broadcasting, and by contris to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. sfrom the tisch wneios at lincoln center in new york, megan thompson. >> thompson: gooing and thank you for joining us. this morning, president donald trump shed new light on a 2016 meeting that is part of the ongoing investigation over russian interference in the presidential election. the meeting during the campaign involved the president's son-- don junior-- and a lawyer with ties to the kremlin, who allegedly offered to provide daming information on hillary clinton, a claim that the president previously disputed. tweeting from his new jersey golulfthis morning, the president said, "this was a meeteting tonformation on an opponent, totally legal and done
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all the time in politics- and it went nowhere. i did not know about it!" a suntatement from donaldr to the "new york times" in july 2017 claimed the meeting was" primarily" about a program to adopt russian children. but in junof this year, the "new york times" published a confidential memo from the president's lawyers knowledging the president, not his son, dictated that statement's version of events. today, one of the president's lawyers, jay sekulow, was ked about the president's claim that the meeting was legal. >> well, the question is, how would it be illegal? i mean, the al question here , would a meeting of that nature constitute a violation-- olation of the law?constitute a >> thompson: the president tweeted frequently yesterday and today, on everything from tariffs, to his thoughts about the news media, to iran. last night mr. trump was in ohio, where he held his thi"" make america great again" rally in a week. the president was campaigning for republican troy balderson, who is running in a special el hection forse seat on
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tuesday. mr. trump dismissed the prospect of democrats winning a congressional majority in the november midterms. >> if the democrats get in, they're going to raise your taxes, you're going to have crree all over the place, yo going to have people pouring across the border, so why would that be a blue wave? i t ihicould be a red wave. really, i think it should be a red wave. >> thompson: the federal rnvernment declared the fires burning in cali a "major disaster," allowing for more relidsef fun fires now stretch from south of los angeles to the oregon border. the largest are the carr fire near redding, and tws now called the mendocino complex. new e today as gusty winds and high temperatures continued to fan the flames. venezuelan president nicas maduro is blaming a right wing plot for what his governmentms cl was an assassination attempt using explosive-carrying drones. maduro was giving a live-
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televised speech honoring the untry's national guard in caracas last night when an explosion was heard and people and troops began running. appearing on state television hours after the incident, maduro blamed colombia's government, which denied any involvement. one day before u.s. economic sanctions are re-imposed, iran's state news agency is reporting that its navy carried out military drills. the u.s. military's central command confirmed seeing an increase in iranian naval activity over the past week in the persian gulf and extending to the strait of hormuz, a strategic passage for many oil shipments. the iraniadrn navals usually occur later in the year. israeli pre nister benjamin netanyahu defended controversial new lonegislahat declares israel as the nation-state of the jewish people, and downgrades arabic from an official to "special" language. last night, tens of thousands of opponents marched in tel aviv, lzeed by members of the d community, an arabic-eaking
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minority. thefruze and other opponents the new law say it relegates non-jewish citizens to second class status. calls to the national suicide prevention lifeline are on the rise. hear from the counselors on the front lines at >> thompson: in the history of american environmental crises, several names stand the test of time: exxon valdez, deepwater horizon, three mile island, and of course, love canal. it was 40 years ago this week that president jimmy carter declared a national health emergency in the small community in niagara falls, new york, re hundreds of residents learned their homes and a school had been built near a massive toxic waste dump filled with nearly 22,000 tons of chemicals. authorities remediated the site and declared much of the area safe. but today, there are many new claims of health problems near lovl.e ca i recently traveled there and spoke to some residents who say
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hiseatory appears to be rng itself. >> ohthis was a great ighborhood. you know, houses all along here. >> onthomyou wouldn't know it now, but these abandoned fields were once home to a g thriving workass neighborhood on the western edge of niagara fallslanew york. luenny and her family moved in nearby in 1969. >> and we thought, oh, what a nplice ideae to raise these boys. it turned out to be quite a dis >> thompson: a company called hicooker ch had dumped 22,000 tons of toxic waste in an unfinished canal nearby. love canal. those chemicals started seeping into residents' basements and backyards, bubbling up on the school's playground. >> my child, i sent to school every single day, was sitting on top of a toxic dump. the chemicals were oozing to the surface and my son was sick. >> thompson: lois gibbs, a virginia-based environmental
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activist, was a mother of two who lived a block from love canal. she led the fight for justice there. gibbs' activism let to president jimmy carter issuing an emergency declaration in 1978. hundreds of families were evacuated. >> i mean, we were a small, blue-collar community you know, we weren't scientists. yet we were able to do it, because we stood together. >> thompson: love canal became known as one of the na worst environmental disasters. it led to e creation of the federal superfund program that oversees the remediation of dangerous hazardous waste sites. vethis is anal today. a bare 70-acre lot, surrounded by a cin-link fence. a lone marker a block away is the only testament to what happened here. i1988, after the federal environmental protection agency and new york state conducted thousands of soil, air and water tinests, the state dete the
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areas directly east of love canal were not safe to live. but the areas directly north and west were. >> we're going to go directly into the emergency declaration area now. >> thompson: mike base is a spokesperson for the e.p.a., which helped oversee the rehabilitation of more than 200 abandoned homes just north of love canal. >> each one of the homes has new siding, new roofs, new windows, new furnaces. >> thompson: today the neighborhood has beerenamed ack creek village. 39 wells monitor the groundwater nearby. it's literally just a street that separates the habitable from the non- bitable. >> that's all. >> thompson: how do we know that it's actually safe to live here? >> well, our monitoring wells and our sampling that was taken back in the 1980's and '90's truly reflects the answer to that question. >> thompson: but many current and former residents aren't convinced the area's safe, like ella kenny, whose seven-year-
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old jon son died in 1978 from k raney disease that she believes was caused by exposure to love canal chemic >> when i see children in this neighborhood playing i become very upset because there are mistill 20,000 tons of cls buried under there. >>nshe landfill material rem in place. >> thompson: the e.p.a. kept the nearly 22,000 tons of toxic waste right where they were, in a specialized landfill because digging up and transporting the hazardous waste would pose its own dangers. the landfill is topped with three feet of clay, a massi sheet of thick plastic and 18 inches of topsoil to seal off the chemicalsand keep out rain and snowmelt, which could displace the toxins. groundwater is guided down towards a system of underground trenches that surround the landfill and collect the water so that it doesn't migrate. more than 100 monitoring wells surround the site to make sure no chemicals escape. >> the system is monitored 24/7, 365 days a year.
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>> bathompson: clinock is operations director for glenn springs holdings. it's a subsidiary of occidental petroleum, which bought hooker chemical, the company that originally dumped the waste. under superfund rules, glenn springs is now responsible for mainfitaining the la, with government oversight. >> this is the love canal treatment facility. >> thompson: this special carbon filtration system cleans up to five million gallons of groundwater that leach from the siteea every the e.p.a. studies the site every five years, and new york state receives annual reports from glenn springs holdings. the ysmost recent said them is successfully "preventing off- site migration of contamination." >> all those reports prove the iveness of the existing remedy. >> thompson: but some neighbors aren't so sure. in 1994 dolly salerno and her family moved to one of those homes the governmenteemed safe a ock north of the love canal site. she says a few years ago, she began smelling a strong chemical
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odor coming from the kitchen sink. she did not want to show her face on camera. >> i get dizzy. sometimes i feel short of breath. >> thompson: salerno says she's developed migraines and pulmonary fibrosis, a lung disease. air tests by the county health department didn't turn up anything. but soil and dust testing conducted by a private company found traces of chemicals found love canal, like chlorinated pesticides, dioxins and p.c.b.s. and whe chemicals came from? >> i tend to believe, since we are in such a close proximity to the love canal that somehow they toare getting he soil, i don't know. i wish i had a answer. >> thompson: this spring, salerno and other families filed a lawsuit against the city of niaglls, occidental petroleum, and other entities involved in the loveanal cleanup. the suit claims love canal chemicals have "migrated to
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residents' properties" and made them sick. hundreds of plaintiffs in other lawsuits have made similar claims. salerno's lawsuit points to an incident in 2011, when a pocket of discovered under a sewer line outside the site. >> they remediated it, removed it. >>hompson: the e.p.a.'s mike basile says that waste was cleaned up immediately, and he won't comment on the litigation. he says the agency hasn't conducted soil or air tests in he black creek neighborhood since it first declared the area s fe, 30 years ago. >> ther need to test, and i'll tell you why. because we have over 150 monitoring clls around the anal. >> thompson: but if we know the chemicals spread, shouldn't there be continuing soil sampling, air sampling of the wider area? >> once again, based on our-- the information that we have from these monitoring-- wells, the public is protected in the immediate area. >> thompson: glenn springs holdings, a subsidiary of occidental petroleum, said in a statement that the monitoring
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well data demonstrate the system is working and, "we believe the plaintiffs' allegations are meritless"... "the health and safety of the surrounding community and neighborhood is our number one priority." ana navas-acien is a physician and epidemiologist at columbia university who studies public health near superfund sites. she says, it's good news that the wells show no signs of contamination. >> that's good., at the same ticause this site, it's so complex-- there was such an enormous quantity of toxicants that were disposed there. it can be chasuenging to make that there is no release in-- from any-- any place. >> thompson: she pots out, the technologies the e.p.a. ud to clean and test the site back in the 1980's are old, compared to improved remediation and testing technologies that exist tay. >> i think relying on past technology to try to understand what's happening today?
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i would say, that's not reasonable, and-- and new measures with today's technology would be important. >> tho complaints aren't confined to people who have lived close to love canal. this is the town of wheatfield, about six miles until recentlld landfill in a wooded area that backs up to dozen of homes contained about 2400 tons of waste moved from love canal in the 1960's. the waste was buried under topsoil and surrounded by ural clay for nearly 5 years. other companies dumped industrial waste back there, too. >> the kids would ride their bikes back there, build forts, do all kis of things that kids do. >> thompson: lori richards had no acidea what wass the street when she moved in nearly 29 years ago. in 2015, glenn springs holdings completed reval of the love nal waste from the wheatfield dump. new york state conducted water and soil testing and is completing its investigation of e site. preliminary results showed"
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landfillontaminants do not present an off-site exposure concern to neighboring properties." but lori richds isn't buying it. >> frankly, it scary as hell. >> thompson: when richards and her husband moved he in 1990, they had one child, and a few years later started trying for a second. >> i had a total of 11 miscarriages. >> thompson: 11 miscarriages? >> uh-huh. there's no family history of it. itet defi threw us for a loop. >> thompson: richards eventually ltave birth to a second, h son. but the problems continued. she says she had a brain aneurysm, her thyroid has essentially stopped functioning, and her husband struggles with daily headaches and muscle twitching. whdon't you leave? >> who are we going to sell to? you know, are we going to sell to, anyoung family starting out? it doesn't seem right. so we are hoping that whatever has happened to us is done. and here we are. >> thompson: down the street, richards' neighbor sue has
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multiple myeloma. she has simply walked away from her home and now lives in an apartment nearby. >> it's been difficult, you're leaving everything behind that, you know, you've had for many years. >> thorompson: sue,richards and dozens of other respaents have a te lawsuit, claiming toxins from the wheatfield landfill have made them sick. their attorneys hireivate firm to conduct soil and dust tests in the area. they say "y found toxins previously found in love canal- related sites." indoors, toxinsan get trapped and build up. tests there found toxin levels 10 to 100 times higher. so far, state officials have declined to test inside residents' homes. in a statement about its involvement, the new york state department of environmental conservation saidt "took aggressive actions to ensure contamination has not migrated ougaide the n landfill site." and in response to the lawsuit, the president of glenn springs holdin, pointed to the
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company's work removing the waste from the landfill and said, "we believe the allegations are meritlo s." whatu think? >> i mean, these levels are quite elevated. >> thompson: columbia university's navas-acien says, the chemicals found in the homes are cause for alarm. but it's impossible to know without more testing where they came from, or if they caused the plaintiffs' health problems. >> we don't know exactly how- these agents, chemicals have really traveled. it would be very hard for me to say, "yes, this is the directof causall your problems." at the sa cme tim this chemical have those effects that they are incomplaabout, that they are facing, these very important problems? yes. the answer is yes. >> thompson: navas-acien says even thou residents may never find answers, the love canal disaster will always offer a cautionay tale. >> love canal was such an incredible lson for the country. we need to be extremely careful
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in the way we handle toxicants. because the consequences of poor management and the contamination that we cannduce it's very serious. and the health effects are very serious. prevention is key. >> thompson: and for people like lori richards, love canal isn't history, but somethinge'he feels still living, every day. >> i think most of all, i just want more than anything, for someone to come in and make it all go away, it's 40 years after love canal and we're still dealing with it. >> thompson: in december of
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80, two years after president carter declared the first eme ergency at lnal, congress passed the comprehensive environmental response, compensation, and liability act, known today as" superfund." the law imposed a tax on industries that pollute the most, like chemical and petroleum businesses. that tax generated a $1.6 billion trust fund for cleaning up the nation's most hazardous hwaste sites. is the program working, nearly 40 years later? robst.g me now is katherine she's an independent coultant who's spent more than 20 years researching and analyzing the superfund program. >> so katherine how about that? 40 years later is superfund working the way it was intended? >> we thought it was going to be afive year program, ep amp would clean up these sites anwe would be done. iat's not so, we're still think everybody is surprised by how long it's taken to clean up
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some of these sites. some of these suits have been on the list and not cleaned up for 20, years. >> thompson: how is the program financed today, are wel sting the polluter tax? >> the tax has expired 1985. for some years congress could approprie moneys from trust omfunds. but prantly from general revenues dprpl recall of our taxes and the real purr chasing po superfund is down 40% from what it was in the year 2000. t> thompson: can you talk a little bit more abhe pace at which these sites have been cleaned up over the years? >> it's slow. it's really important that the administration try to figure ou why ean up is so slow. is it are lack of funding, lack of enforcement, why are some sites taking so long?
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>> thompson: the trump administration has launched something called the superfund task force. what is that all about? >> when secetary pruitt came in, he launched a new program. recommendations are in theory to accelerate cleanup and alsoo stimulate reuse and revitalization of contaminated sites. >> thompson: are we seeing these sites getting cleaned upui morekly now? >> it's really hard the say. the administration just issued their report of the 42 recommendations and while they have implemented someof their recommendations it is too soon the tell whether cleanup has been accelerated pn terms of many speeding u cleanup across the board i don't think they did that. >> thompson: peter wright spent nearly 20 years at dow chemical, which recently merged with dupont, a company that was
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responsible for polluting these sites. what do you know about him? >> anyone who has had a career m dow and dupont will have to reexcuse himself flot of these programs since they are responsible to a number of the sites he's not going to be able to involved in a lot of those decisions. >> thompson: looking forward, about 50 million people live within the area of a superfund site. can yotalk about the potential of human exposure and something we are paying enough tension to? >> accord to the epa's own data, epa says that human exposure is not under chrome and there are another 185 sites where they say they don't have enough information to determine if there are risks at these sites. so those are 300 sites wh there is a potential or current risk of human exposure to contaminants.
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be. >> thompson: all right, katherine probst thank you so much for joining me. i >> thpbs newshour weekend, sunday. >> thompson: a record heatwave continues across spain and portugal today as blistering temperatures reach highs of more than one-hundred a degrees fahrenheit. in spain, at least three deathss from hoke have been reported and in portugal, text alerts are warning of a high risk of fires. itn reporter jessica savage has the story. >> reporter: it's easy too see why thousands are flocking to spanish seaside townsith temperatures in many parts of the country today heading north of 40° celsius. this morning, forecasters predicted highs of 45, many thought today a influence european record would be set. now currently the current o of 48° still stands. some have been setting record
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of their own with many not having experienced temratures like this before. >> i'm from edinburgh, this is out of my comfort zone. maybe ill, heatstroke we haven't been drinking enough water, mainly people are tryi keep out of the heat to keep safe. >> reporter: and safety is a major concern. particularly across request mprts of southern spain, high atures have seen wildfires rage. in portugal, too, temperatures were so high many simply stayed indoors. for those who did ventu out, staying cool was a must. and some are struggling. >> it'serrible. we're from canada and never felt heat like this before. >> i'm from russia, and i'm used to have cold all the time, not so warm. >> reporter: there's another hot day in store tomorrow with l that european record still may be broken.
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jessica sage, itv news. >> thompson: tomorrow on the pbs newshour, inside iran: how the nation is copi with the new economic sanctions after the u.s. pulled out of the nuclear deal. at's all for this edition of pbs newshour weekend. i'm megan thompson. thanks for watching. have a good night. captioning sponsored by wnet captioned by media access group at wgbh >> pbs newshour weekend is made
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possible by: bernard and irene schwartz. sue and edgar wachenheim iii.nd the cherylhilip milstein family. dr. p. roy vagelos and diana t. gelos. the j.p.b. foundation.wa rosalind per. barbara hope zuckerberg. ro corporate funding isded by mutual of america-- designing customized individual e'nd group retirement products. that's why your retirement company. additional support has been provided by: and by the corporation for public broadcasting, and by contributions to your pbs station from viewee you. thank you. ed kenney, voice-over: i have always believed
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that food and family bring happiness... ha ha ha! ha ha ha! argh! oh! kenney, voover: but a trip to hanoi proved we that these two thingsust can't . oh! food brings people together and has the power to conjure up cherished memories. jack johnson: ♪ oh, you're such a pretty thing ♪ ♪ i'll take you, and i'll make you all mine ♪ kenney: i was born and raised in the hawaiian islands, one of the most diverse communities in the world. johnson: ♪ we will watch you from the clouds ♪ ♪ we can't stop it, anyhow ♪ it's not ours kenney: in this show, we'll meet a guest from hawai'i, learn about their favorite dish, trace it back to its origins, and have some fun along the way. johnson: ♪ oh, you're such a pretty thing ♪


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